|Photos||Video & Audio||Blogs||Statistics||Archive||Shop||Mobile|
Australia's brief tour of New Zealand in December 2005 only included three one-day matches, but they contained enough thrills and spills to persuade even hardened Test-match traditionalists that there might be something in the limited-overs game after all.
The Chappell-Hadlee Trophy concept was launched in Australia in December 2004 with a rather unsatisfactory one-all draw, after one match was abandoned; and the preliminaries to this latest instalment were not particularly auspicious either. New Zealand had just limped home from a 0- 4 one-day defeat in South Africa, which was followed by widespread criticism of the selectors for dropping the unfit and out-of-form Chris Cairns. Meanwhile, the Australians - their Ashes defeat still raw - rested Glenn McGrath, which gave the bowling a distinctly second-string look. The selectors had hoped to allow Adam Gilchrist a break, too, but New Zealand wanted a crowd-puller, so the Aussies obliged - and an out-of-sorts Gilchrist managed scores of three, eight and nought from a total of 25 balls.
New Zealand also had their problems. Stephen Fleming found that a benign lump near his left ear was growing and required surgery: he sat out the first two matches. Shane Bond missed all three with a hamstring strain. But the critics' clamour had Cairns - who had made a genuine effort to get himself back to match-fitness - restored to the side at the age of 35.
Brett Lee's fireworks proved too much for New Zealand in the first match, but the other two games were mini-classics: after falling just three runs short of a hefty target in the second game, New Zealand pulled off an even bigger run-chase in the third, to set a record for any one-day international. It was too late, though. Australia's success in the second match, courtesy of Andrew Symonds's massive 156, had secured the silverware.
The success of this series might mean that this trans-Tasman tournament will become firmly established as an annual event. Ricky Ponting, for one, would not be surprised: "Australian teams have been involved in many thrillpacked games against New Zealand recently," he said. "It is obvious there is a very keen rivalry between the two sides."
One discordant note was provided by the unruly crowds. There were four pitch invasions in the first match at Auckland, and fruit and plastic bottles were hurled at Australian outfielders. The authorities cleared the first three rows of seats for the remaining games, and ensured that a security officer was in close attendance to any boundary fieldsman. Still, there were 15 arrests - and 46 people thrown out of the ground - at the second match in Wellington.
Match reports for